Despite Blunders, TNT’s Capitals-Rangers Debut Sets All-Time Record For Second Night Of NHL Season


It may not have been perfect. Well, it was far from that.

TNT had significant blunders in their network debut on Wednesday, most notably talking over goals by Justin Schultz and Hendrix Lapierre (his first career NHL goal) while focusing on a discussion in the studio.

It should probably be expected for an inaugural broadcast. Let’s hope it only improves. Ratings for the inaugural broadcast, however, were a blockbuster for the NHL’s newest broadcast partner.

According to Sports Media Watch, TNT’s first-ever NHL regular season game, Rangers-Capitals on Wednesday night, averaged 817,000 viewers — the largest audience on record for an NHL game on the second night of the season. Viewership jumped 243% from Wild-Predators on NBCSN in 2019 (238K). There was no nationally televised game on the second night of last season, which began months later than usual in January.

The Blackhawks-Avalanche nightcap drew 522,000. Viewership peaked at 920,000 for Rangers-Capitals and at 887,000 for Blackhawks-Avalanche.

The ratings come on the heels of ESPN’s record-setting opening night on Tuesday. Tuesday’s Penguins-Lightning NHL Opening Night game averaged 983,000 viewers on ESPN, the league’s largest Opening Night audience ever on cable (dates back to 1993). The previous high was 956,000 for Flyers-Bruins on NBCSN in 2014.

Regardless of network, it was the largest audience for the first national NHL telecast of any season since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign — when the season opened with a regional window on NBC (Blackhawks-Kings or Flyers-Penguins: 2.8M).

The Penguins-Lightning game increased 36% from Capitals-Blues on NBCSN in October 2019, the last traditional (pre-pandemic) Opening Night (983K). Last season’s first game, Flyers-Penguins on a Wednesday afternoon in January, averaged 932,000 on NBCSN.

In Tuesday night’s late game, the Kraken-Golden Knights averaged 783,000 — up 107% from Sharks-Golden Knights in ’19 (379K).

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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1 Response to Despite Blunders, TNT’s Capitals-Rangers Debut Sets All-Time Record For Second Night Of NHL Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    They have a lot of work to do. A lot of NHL fans probably tuned in just to see if Wilson and Reaves were gonna go at it.

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